Preparing for academic year 2016-2017. The proof is in the pudding…
Anyone who looks through the copious research (including the meta-studies in the Teaching and Learning Toolkit) is convinced by Cooperative Learning.
Cooperative Learning always works if you follow the steps, quite literally. But, unlike most other things in life, Cooperative Learning gives what you want from it.
If you’re looking to boost teachers individually, or provide one more exciting tool among many, then that’s what you will get; everywhere it’s used, it will benefit teaching and learning. But if you are looking for cohesive, systematic improvement to school ethos on every front, then that is what you will get – through coordinated cooperation, any teacher you add to the mix will increase impact exponentially.
But, again, the proof is in the pudding. This year, Tim Coulson, Regional Schools Commissioner, listed Stalham Academy , under Right for Success Trust, as one of seven schools in the Eastern region to contact for good practice, due to their incredible results, with 81% achieving the expected standard or above in Reading, Writing & Maths.
This this from a school that was a special measures 16 months ago. Cooperative Learning has also had substantial positive impact on behaviour, language, and thinking skills. It is integrated with assessment systems, and actively supports other programs in which the school has invested, including Attainment for All.
To achieve this, Stalham paid £150 per month over six months.
But … what does Ofsted think?
Unlike Stalham, another client of mine in Norfolk, Norwich Primary Academy, has actually had an Ofsted inspection. The former Larkman Primary School was ruled “inadequate” by Ofsted in 2010. Converted to Academy status as Norwich Primary Academy under the Inspiration Trust, the school had their first Skills & Mastery session in September 2014. This is an extract from The Academy’s first Ofsted report:
“Teaching is good because underperformance has been tackled. … Pupils throughout the academy make good progress because they practise key skills very regularly in ways they describe as ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’. Pupils make particularly good progress in writing because they develop these skills in the imaginative tasks teachers provide for them.”
Reading and writing are two key areas of focus of the course, and both have been presented as separate modules for the benefit of Birmingham schools last academic year. Speaking of writing, Judy Brady, a year 3 teacher in Norwich Primary Academy, made this remark:
“I really don’t think I could have achieved such a dramatic improvement using ‘usual’ methods. [One pupil], who’s partner told him he couldn’t read the sentence on Wednesday, earned himself a house point for improvement and I’m sure he left the room several centimetres taller!”
And this is perhaps the most telling evidence of the value of Cooperative Learning.
More desert anyone?
New SAT course in the pipeline
I want to make 81% achieving the expected standard or above in Reading, Writing & Maths in SATs available to every school. Working closely with practising teachers in schools, I’m in the process of creating a new course to do just that.
Initially entitled SAT through CL, it will let teachers effectively prepare Year 6 pupils for SAT tests. Not through mere drilling of the concepts being tested, but by recognising when and how to use various procedures.
This is especially relevant for EAL or lower ability pupils with poor language and reading skills, who often find recognising the actual task itself is a challenge. Therefore, the Cooperative Learning Interaction Patterns (CLIPs) in this course are picked and ordered to drive deep integration of skills with higher level thinking processes.
SATs through CL is being developed and tested in close collaboration with Year 6 teachers, and consists of a series of content-void lesson plans immediatly applicable to any SAT-related material. These integrate procedural training, peer learning, feedback, accountability, knowledge sharing across class, and effective monitoring.
This is not teaching-for-the-test, it’s teaching the skills required for the test and everywhere else. Super SAT results are almost a by-product.
SATs through CL will hopefully be available to schools in the academic year 2016.
In other news
One of the most exciting thing to happen over the last six months is my work with West Midlands Police. With Cooperative Learning, the true resources are the participants – regardless of age group or objectives.
These workshops mark a new way of staging complex citizen meetings, securing equal participation and accountability – with a lot of challenging engagement.
Using Cooperative Learning to work directly with communities, increase democracy and local empowerment is a long-standing dream of mine. We are looking forward to the next session in Perry Barr on September 17.
Also to be continued and expanded is my work with Uthman bin Affan Trust, which will, quite literally, change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian children over time – inshallah.
And finally, in every sense of the word, new website
You will find more information on courses, other clients, and Cooperative Learning in general on the recently redesigned werdelin.co.uk – much lighter, in terms of both colour and words. I do hope you like it.